The Santanoni Range

Saturday was a big hiking day. Brendan and I hiked the Santanoni range in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, Santanoni, Couchsachraga and Panther peaks. And FYI: Couch isn’t technically a high peak since it’s not 4,000 feet in elevation–but its still required to hike as part of the 46. The trailhead to this range is at the Upper Works in Newcomb. On the sign at the parking lot it said trailhead to Bradley Pond, with no mention of the Santanonis at all. We took exit 26 on the Northway and drove through Minerva to get there. The trailhead is at the start of an old dirt road. We couldn’t figure out where this road lead to, but there is a locked gate at the start of it. We actually drove up in Brendan’s hatchback on Friday night and slept in his car since the back seats folded down. I had never done that before, but it turned out to be a good idea because it meant we got an early start. We were hiking down the dirt road by 6:30AM.

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I had done extensive research on this hike because the herd paths to these three peaks are unmarked and unmaintained. I studied maps and read trip reports and even taught myself how to use a map and compass by watching a youtube video. Thankfully I didn’t need to put my newfound skill to work. 😉

We walked for 1.7 miles on the dirt road until we saw the blue trail on the right that leads to the Santanonis.

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I had read that there was an express herd path that leaves from the blue trail and takes you straight to the summit of Santanoni. We decided this would be the best option since it would create a loop so we could hike Santanoni first, followed by Couch, then Panther. I kept my eye out for the cairn that lead to the Santanoni Express herd path. After hiking for almost 3 miles, we saw it!

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I was worried the trail would be difficult to follow, but turns out that it was a very well worn path and was super easy stay on. It was a bit steep, but not the worst I’ve seen in the high peaks! It was quite enjoyable actually. Finally, we hit tree line for Santanoni at about 9:40AM and got some nice views.

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There is a false summit which we got to at about 10:00am.

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We walked a little bit further to look for the summit sign and found it not too far away.

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After having a snack and staying for about 15 minutes max, we headed back in the direction we came from and passed the false summit again. This time, we saw a trail that turned left and took that one down to Times Square, a clearing not far from Santanoni’s summit that also leads to Couch and Herald Square. All of the squares are a bit confusing, but after googling and finding maps of said squares, it was quite easy to figure out. There are two squares, Times Square and Herald Square. Times Square has paths leading to Santanoni, Couch and the not too far away Herald Square. Herald Square is where you pick up the path to Panther and the herd path back down to Bradley Pond and the blue trail, which will take us back to the road and back to the car. Confused yet?

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Small cairn at a clearing signifies Times Square.

When we got to Times Square, we took a left and headed to Couch. The herd path to Couch is 1.5 miles one way and took us about 1.5 hours. There is the infamous bog down at the col which I had been dreading. Thankfully we had our poles to help balance on the logs as we crossed. But if we lost our balance, we would have sunk into knee-deep mud. Because of the bog and the long trek out to Couch, its not a favorite peak of many. You also lose significant elevation going over to Couch, and you have to climb back up to Times Square after. Not fun.

 

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Following footprints in the mud also helps to discern the herd path. We made it through the bog unscathed and found ourselves at the viewless summit of Couchsachraga Peak at 1:15PM, more than three hours after we hit Santanoni.

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My thoughts Couch. It took us three hours to get there and back and were back at Times Square at 2:47PM. Time to hit the last summit of the day, Panther! We got to Herald Square four minutes after leaving Times Square! We knew we were there because there were markings carved into a tree.

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From there the path to Panther is on the right with a scratching into the rock pointing that direction.

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There is also a rock with directions to Times Square.

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Panther is only .5 miles round trip from Herald Square. I’m so glad we took the express route up and saved Panther for last, because it was SO EASY and had phenomenal views.

We also had a fantastic view of Santanoni.

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And the lovely Couch, to the far right.

 

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All together now, the range we just hiked.

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Summit bench marker at Panther.

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Glad to be done–BUT with still 6 miles left to hike back to the car!!

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Santanoni Range complete–26, 27 and 28th peaks done. Going back down to Herald Square was a breeze–then from there we took another unmarked path that didn’t lead to TS or Panther back down to Bradley Pond. This trail was annoying, rocky, and pretty awful. It followed a dry stream bed all the way down and was hard on the feet. I was tired from already hiking 11 miles and just wanted to be DONE. Finally we saw the pond, and the herd path went left around it, spit us out into this forest that thankfully had some tape on the trees to tell us where the trail went. We hit a Beaver Pond and followed some footrprints to the right and came onto a well-maintained trail. I had brought Christine’s trip report from last year with me and read hers which told us this was the blue trail. Soon enough, we saw blue trail markers !

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We followed the trail back to the dirt road, and ultimately back to the car as the sun started to set.

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At 7:15pm we signed out of the register, 12 hours and 45 minutes after starting the hike. This one left me physically drained, bruised and covered in mud, but extremely worth it because I’m 3 peaks closer to my goal. It has also helped me feel more confident in my hiking ability when it comes to the trailless peaks! This range was not easy.

Santanoni Range via Santanoni Express
Distance ~17 mi RT from Upper Works
Total hiking time 12 hrs, 45 minutes including stops
Santanoni Elevation 4606′
Couchsachraga Elevation 3720′
Panther Elevation 4442′
Total Elevation Gain 4395′

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Gear used Osprey Sirrus day pack, 3 L Platypus hydration bladder, 1 L Hydroflask, Kelty trekking poles, Under Armor crops, New Balance tank, Merrell Moab hiking boots, Exofficio long sleeve, EMS Gaitors, Smartwool socks, Buff headband

Thacher Park Running Festival 10K

Hey, guess what! I still run sometimes! And Sunday I ran  10K! The Albany Running Exchange held their second annual Thacher Park Trail Running Festival on Sunday. You may recall that I ran the 10K last year as well! Well, the weather was much nicer this year and the course was a little bit different. The race started at Horseshoe II Pavilion. There was a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon and 50K, each of which started at 8:30AM. I got there with maybe 10 minutes to spare and chatted with Christine who was running the half, while we waited for the race to begin.

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Race start-it was a small field!

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I felt a little tired during the first 3 miles or so, but after running for a while I felt better. The pink tape on course meant it was the 10K loop.

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There’s a nice view about halfway at the Hanglider Lookout–always a bonus.

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And also again at the end going back toward the finish line.

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Distance 10K
Time 1:11:53 (faster than last year!)
Average Pace 11:17/mile

Next year I’d like to run the half!

Food & Nutrition – Tart Cherry Juice

One of my favorite drinks is Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice. I’ve been drinking it for years and it’s a staple in my diet, especially during marathon training! Tart cherries are said to have anti-inflammatory properties, which make tart cherry juice a great drink for post-run (and post-hike!) recovery.

Tart cherries contain beneficial nutrients such as:

Anthocyanins

These are plant colorants that are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors found in many fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and flowers. Studies show that anthocyanins protect against liver injuries; reduce blood pressure; improve eyesight; contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties; and stop of spread of human cancer cells.1

Phenolic Acids

These are a type of phytochemical called a polyphenol. Phenolic acids are easily absorbed through the walls of your intestines, and may be beneficial to your health. They work as antioxidants that prevent cellular damage from free-radical oxidation reactions. They also may act as an anti-inflammatory when consumed regularly. 2

Flavanols and Flavonols

Studies show that consumption of foods containing these compounds may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 3

Check out Cheribundi the next time you are the grocery store. My favorite way to drink it is in my Tart Cherry Blast Recovery Protein Smoothie!

Sources

  1. Konczak I, Zhang W. Anthocyanins—More Than Nature’s Colours. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2004;2004(5):239-240. doi:10.1155/S1110724304407013.
  2. Liu RH. “Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action.” J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12 Suppl):3479S-3485S.
  3. Erdman J, et. al. Effects of cocoa flavanols on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Asia Pc J Clin Nutr. 2008. 17(S1):284-28.

Disclaimer: I was sent tart cherry juice for review on this blog–all opinions and views on the topic are my own. I don’t post about a product unless scientific evidence backs up their health claims.

On Top of New York – Hiking Mount Marcy

Yesterday was the day! It was time to tackle New York’s highest mountain, Mount Marcy! I took the day off from work so Jordan and I could hike together (he works weekends so he usually can’t hike with me then). We met Brendan at the park and ride at 5:30AM and off we went to the ADK Loj. The easiest and most popular trail to the summit of Marcy is the Van Hovenberg. This is the same trail to Phelps and Tabletop as well. The last time I was on this trail was January 2014 and it was zero degrees. Yesterday was a bit different with 80 degree temps in the middle of August.

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Much of the trail up to Marcy is a gentle ascent. The biggest issue was the mud! I wasn’t expecting it! The trail finally got really steep once we could actually see Marcy in the distance.

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Looks daunting, but it isn’t so bad.

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At 5,344 Mount Marcy is the tallest peak in New York! There are excellent views from the summit. Totally worth the almost 8 mile hike to it. We had a warm but amazing day.

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Since it was a Monday, the summit wasn’t too crowded. I spotted a woman on the way up that I saw when hiking Colden last weekend and had to say hello.

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Marcy was Jordan’s first high peak! Woo!  It was great to finally hike in the high peaks with him! He loved it!

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I’m at 25.

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Brendan is at 16.

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A strange bug landed on Brendan’s backpack. It looked like some kind of bee. Everyone gathered around to take a photo of it.

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There is neighboring Haystack.

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Colden with Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois behind it.

We sat at the top of New York for about 45 minutes and then headed back down the way we came. We decided to stop at Indian Falls, a few feet of off the trail near the junction for Tabletop.

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Great views of Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois!

It was pretty warm out yesterday, but not unbearable. I brought almost 4L of water with me and a large Gatorade and didn’t drink it all. The walk out was nice, too.

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We made a stop at Heart Lake to jump in and cool off afterward. What a great ending to a perfect hiking day!

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Mount Marcy
Distance
15.3 mi RT
Total hiking time
10 hours including stops
Elevation
5,344′
Ascent
3,182′

Gear used Osprey Sirrus day pack, 3 L Platypus hydration bladder, 1 L Hydroflask, Kelty trekking poles, Under Armor crops, Old Navy tank, Keen Durand hiking boots, Smartwool socks, Buff headband

Mount Marcy

Hiking Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass

Today I’m writing my trip report in a form of a Day in the Life Post-Enjoy!

3:50AM – Wake up before my 4AM alarm. I was convinced I was going to toss and turn all night but I slept fairly well and got a solid five hours. Get up, put in my contacts, and finish packing my hiking pack. Fill up my 3L platypus bladder with filtered water (I know from experience that putting filtered water vs. tap water makes ALL the difference in taste when your water sits in a bladder all day) and my 1L hydroflask. Make bagel and cream cheese to bring for breakfast and PBJ for lunch.

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4:30AM – Meet Jenna at the park & ride in Clifton Park. This is a popular spot for hiking meet ups since it’s very accessible from the Northway, right off of Exit 9.

5:30AM – Pit stop, usually in Warrensburg. We missed the exit this time, but decided to stop at Stewarts in Keene instead.

6:15AM – Arrive at Keene Stewarts for a bathroom break and to pick up some granola bars for the hike. Realize I left my hiking socks on my chair at home and discover Stewarts does NOT sell socks. Ask a stranger in the parking lot if they have spare socks—someone does! Thank goodness, the day was saved.

7:00AM – Arrive at trailhead called South Meadows. It’s located on the left a few miles down Loj Road off of Route 73 going toward Lake Placid. Drive down a dirt path and discover a number of campsites along the road. Park car, put on boots. We’re ready to tackle Mount Colden!

7:05AM – Sign into trail register. Notice that there are two people ahead of us taking the same route. Make the 3 mile trek down the truck road to Marcy Dam. It’s a little chilly at 5o degrees. These miles go by quick! We are excited for an awesome day in the mountains.

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8:30AM – Arrive at junction for Avalanche Pass, Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. We’re taking the steeper and scenic route up to Mt. Colden through Avalanche Pass and will come back down to Lake Arnold for a loop.

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9:10AM – Finally get to Avalanche Lake! It’s gorgeous. The trail around the lake is extremely rocky-there are many ladders and boards crossing large boulders, it’s tiring and feels like a jungle gym! There are shovels hanging from the trees that I can only assume are for digging people out of the snow in case of an emergency. We are thankful it is not winter, but a fine summer day.

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9:50AM – Can officially say we’ve hiked through Avalanche Pass! We arrive to the trail register for Mt. Colden—but we won’t be signing out of this one since we’re doing a loop. It is only 2.1 miles to the summit, with a total gain of 1913’.

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10:00AM – We can see Lake Colden!

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10:45AM – The trail starts to get super steep! It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it is tough.

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11:15AM – We get our first great views while climbing! Amazing day.

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A great view of Mount Marcy. I’m coming for you next!

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11:45AM – Finally get the summit of Colden, 4.5 hours after leaving the car. Enjoy the summit for about 30 minutes.

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I’m at 24/46 – That’s Wright and Algonquin behind me!

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12:30PM – Start to head down to Lake Arnold-the trip down is rocky and tough on the feet. After almost 9 miles of hiking, we are getting tired! We reach the false summit of Colden and look back to where we were just 10 minutes ago.

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3:10PM – Finally back at Marcy Dam after what felt like forever. From here, it’s only a few more miles until we can take our boots off!

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We get to enjoy some pretty scenery on the hike back out on the truck trail.

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4:00PM – Back at the car!! Time to change and drive back to Stewarts for an ice cream cone. What a day!

7:15PM – Finally back to Troy. Time to shower, have a beer and veg out for the evening. 15 miles of hiking is tiring.

Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass to Lake Arnold
Distance 15.1 miles
Time
9 hours, 3 minutes
Elevation
4715′
Total Elevation Gain 2887′
24/46

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Gear used Osprey Sirrus day pack, Kelty trekking poles on the descent only, 3L Platypus bladder, 1L Hydroflask, EMS hiking shorts, Steel Rail half marathon tshirt, Keen hiking boots, random guy’s cotton socks (not recommended for hiking, but did the trick in a pinch !)